What insight stage am I at?

Henry Freeman Melville, modified 4 Years ago at 8/23/17 6:31 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 8/23/17 6:28 PM

What insight stage am I at?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 8/23/17 Recent Posts
This is my first post on the Dharma Overground, I've been reading Daniel's book and I've found it extremely helpful and refreshingly straightforward.

I've been practicing since the beginning of this year, so about 8 months, with close to an hour of practice most days of the week (and weekends). I've been focusing on the 3 characteristics in my daily practice for the last month or two. 

Around the beginning of my practice (January-March) I feel that I was very excited about the new things I was seeing, what I was able to notice, and potential implications of what was happening around practice / the Dharma. I'd guess this was Mind & Body through A&P. I should also say that at this time I was experimenting a lot with marijuana edibles. Around February I dropped the drugs and focused purely on sitting practice. 

Shortly after this, I began to feel a lot of paranoia in my day to day life, being very interested especially in conspiracies around the government, as well as making myself more socially isolated. I would read this time as Dark Night territory. I was also often discouraged in my practice, second-guessing whether I was in the right tradition or if I was practicing correctly. 

I feel that at times right now and the last couple of months I'm coming into equanimity, especially on the physical level - seeing very straightforwardly the cause and effect that's implicit in all things, and not getting worked up about things that had previously gotten to me. However, there is certainly more suffering/clinging/self involved around emotional states. 

During actual shamatha practice, the usual pattern is: I focus on my breath until things stabilize somewhat in (I think) 2nd Jhana going into 3rd Jhana, then I begin insight practice on one of the three characteristics. Most recently after about 15 minutes of this I began to feel that I could see no-self clearly on the physical level, but once thought and emotion came in I lost it. Shortly after, I began to feel pain from sitting on the floor, which dominated my experience. I attempted to see this too as no-self with mixed success and then my meditation ended.

Where am I? Also I don't particularly feel stalled, but any direction about practice would be appreciated. Please let me know if I can provide any additional clarification/description to help.
Peter S, modified 4 Years ago at 8/23/17 7:56 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 8/23/17 7:56 PM

RE: What insight stage am I at?

Posts: 68 Join Date: 3/25/15 Recent Posts
Hi Henry

I'm not at all qualified to give advice, but I'd say, based on what more experienced folks have always advised me to do, that you should give a solid retreat a try. If you do Samatha practice a lot, try a retreat in that. Or Vipassana, if you're ready for the heavy stuff. Either way, give a minimum of 2-3 weeks a go, and that should give your practice a huge boost, which should give you some clarity on what is really going on. I only put it this way because it happens that our practice can consist of many and varied experiences, none of which help us get a clear sense of where we're at since each little piece on its own can look like a stage or symptom of something. So, ultimately, a block of solid practice might help tease out the details and give you a clear picture.

I hope that helps with your decision-making going forward.

With metta,

Henry Freeman Melville, modified 4 Years ago at 8/23/17 8:13 PM
Created 4 Years ago at 8/23/17 8:13 PM

RE: What insight stage am I at?

Posts: 2 Join Date: 8/23/17 Recent Posts

Thanks for the response! I had been considering going into retreat soon anyway, so this really helps to solidify that decision. What you said about getting a chunk of isolated practice to look at makes a lot of sense to me, the messiness of daily life can certainly cloud things.